One Step Closer To Jedi
November 26, 2019
“Great CEOs face the pain. They deal with the sleepless nights, the cold sweats, and what my friend the great Alfred Chuang (legendary cofounder and CEO of BEA Systems) calls “the torture.” Whenever I meet a successful CEO, I ask them how they did it. Mediocre CEOs point to their brilliant strategic moves or their intuitive business sense or a variety of other self-congratulatory explanations. The great CEOs tend to be remarkably consistent in their answers. They all say, “I didn’t quit.”
“Early in my career as an engineer, I’d learned that all decisions were objective until the first line of code was written. After that, all decisions were emotional.”
– Ben Horowitz
The Day After Tomorrow Shouldn’t Actually Be The Day After Tomorrow
The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has reported that the level of climate-heating greenhouse gasses has hit a record high during the past year. Despite the increasing awareness of climate change issues in addition to treaties and agreements between global countries such as the 2015 Paris Treaty, the WMO stated that the gap between targets and reality were both “glaring and growing.”
Scientists have calculated that global emissions would have to be cut in half by 2030 if the world hopes to slow the “Doomsdays Clock.” The WMO secretary-general observed that “there is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, despite all the commitments under the Paris agreement on climate change. We need to increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of mankind.”
The new record high in greenhouse gasses is unprecedented, and will hopefully serve as a sobering reminder to governments which are concerned about the future of the Earth. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen by 50% since 1750, when the industrial revolution first began, leading to the widespread burning of coal, oil, and gas. Further compounding the level of greenhouse gasses are the increased levels of methane, produced by cows, rice paddies, and fossil fuels, as well as nitrous oxide, which comes from heavy fertiliser use and forest burning.
- Storms in France, Greece and Italy leave ‘biblical destruction’ (Guardian)
- It’s time to retire metrics like GDP. They don’t measure everything that matters: The way we assess economic performance and social progress is fundamentally wrong, and the climate crisis has brought these concerns to the fore (Guardian)
Not With A Bang, But With A Zap
- The first global scientific review of insect populations was published in February. It noted that insect population collapses have been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, and warned that widespread declines threatened to cause a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems.”
- This month the journal Biological Conservation published an analysis that concluded: “Insects around the world are rapidly declining. Their absence would have devastating consequences for life on this planet.” The analysis emphasized that light pollution — artificial light at night (ALAN) — is an important and often overlooked bringer of the insect apocalypse.
- Farmers have long used light deliberately to suppress insects, as ALAN affects their movement, foraging, reproduction and predation. However the latest research is showing a global loss of insect biodiversity without including ALAN. The simplest first step is to just turn off unnecessary lights.
- But the chief executive of the conservation charity Buglife goes a step further, saying: “It is imperative that society … make(s) the environment safer for insects. A national light-reduction target, enforceable in law, would be the most appropriate next step.” (Guardian)
My Country Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Tourism
- A quarter century ago no one would have considered dangerous, conflict-ridden countries like Colombia, Croatia and Rwanda ideal tourist destinations. But with the cessation of strife, passage of time and economic revitalization, those nations are now at the top of travel bucket lists.
- Millions of tourists are visiting each year, and based on these successes, travel agents have some suggestions for other countries looking to rebrand their image. (NYT)
Additional World News
- China can shut off the Philippines’ power grid at any time, leaked report warns (CNN)
- Merkel and Macron Publicly Clash Over NATO: With relations at a new low, Chancellor Angela Merkel berated President Emmanuel Macron over his comments about the alliance’s ‘‘brain death.” (NYT, $) & Nato to consider expert panel after Macron brain-dead claim (Guardian)
- Thousands of sheep feared drowned after a cargo ship capsized in the Black Sea (CNN)
- U.K. Truck Driver Admits Illegal Immigration Plot After 39 Migrant Deaths (NPR)
- Swastika found scrawled on police station wall in an area only accessible to officers and staff (CNN)
Don’t Forget To Charge Your Phone To Avoid Charges
- With the advancement of forensic technology, smartphones can often be a source for evidence of culpability — and also exoneration — for persons accused of crimes. However the criminal justice system is an uneven playing field in more ways than one.
- Government budgets can normally afford universal forensic extraction devices costing thousands of dollars, like the Touch2 tablet made by the Israeli company Cellebrite. The Touch2 is able to pull data from almost any gadget and preserve it in a format that courts will accept as evidence. But public defenders are at a real disadvantage when lacking access to expensive gadgets and software that could keep their clients out of jail. (NYT)
Socialism With American Characteristics
- A key component of Republican campaign strategy is to link Democratic policy proposals to the anathema that is “socialism.” It appears that red state conservatives — who loudly castigate socialism while simultaneously embracing Medicare and Social Security — don’t understand the term.
- Another example of that-which-must-not-be-labeled-socialism is happening in other small rural communities in GOP-voting states. 68 percent of residents in Baldwin, Florida voted for Donald Trump in 2016. The next year Baldwin lost its last remaining grocery store, and the city council voted to open its own grocery store.
- St. Paul, Kansas has had a city-run grocery store since 2013. And communally-owned grocery stores are cropping up in other locations in deep-red Kansas. But here’s the thing: by definition, a collectively owned, government-run enterprise —- like the life-saving Baldwin Market — is inherently socialist. (WaPo)
- Asheville’s woes are the story of America (CNN)
- The Life and Death of the Local Hardware Store: It’s cheaper and more efficient than ordering from Amazon. But American capitalism has turned against small business (NYT, $)
- The Parents Passed a Drug Test. Should They Get Their Children Back? (NYT, $)
- Forget the Oval. The real Trump action is in the residence. (Politico)
- Defense secretary says Trump ordered him to allow SEAL in war crimes case to keep status (NBC)
- Ex-White House counsel Don McGahn must testify in impeachment inquiry, judge rules (Guardian)
- White House review turns up emails showing extensive effort to justify Trump’s decision to block Ukraine military aid (WaPo, $)
- For Trump, Impeachment Is a Show: Washington is Hollywood and Trump is the leading man. (NYT, $)
One Step Closer To Jedi
- Hungarian scientists may be getting closer to finding a fifth major force of nature which governs the world as we know it. Currently, the four major forces of gravity, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong force control our known visible universe, but new research is slowly paving the path toward a fifth, never-before-known force.
- Scientists from across the globe have studied the research done by the Hungarian team, who were able to perform a test on a helium balloon which was unexplainable by simply using the four known forces, leading them to believe that there may indeed be a fifth force of nature. If replication of the experiment were possible, many believe that it would be a (almost literally) ground-breaking discovery and “a no-brainer Nobel Prize.” (CNN)
I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me
- Your data is being shared, with or without your permission, by nearly every corporation and big company you’ve ever interacted with. Plain and simple, your information is no longer under your control. If you want to fight back and make sure that sensitive information isn’t spread like a rumor in high school locker rooms, then you need to keep some things in mind: be cautious of what information you’re handing over, and who you’re handing it over to.
- “Think hard before you enter your email into a form online about why the company actually needs your email and what they might do with it. You can lie. It’s not illegal to put a fake email, or a fake phone number or a fake name in the vast majority of services you sign up for,” said Bennett Cyphers, a staff technologist at nonprofit digital rights organization, Electronic Frontier Foundation.
- You’ve probably already handed over a large quantity of information to your cell phone carrier, internet provider, and even big tech brands such as Facebook, Paypal, and Apple, so make sure to check if there’s a way to opt out of their information tracking systems. It’s time to do a checkup on your digital privacy. (NYT)
- The creator of the web has a plan to save the web (Engadget)
- Read Sacha Baron Cohen’s scathing attack on Facebook in full: ‘greatest propaganda machine in history’ (Guardian)
- I ditched Google for DuckDuckGo. Here’s why you should too (Wired, $)
- One of the best essays we have read the past few weeks: The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius (Paul Graham)
- The Greatest Shortcut for Leaders Is Reading Books: For 5,000 years, humans have been solving problems like the one you may be facing — and writing about it (Forge)
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